Calgary city council debate bike share program

A Calgary city hall committee Wednesday looked at whether the city should create a multi-million dollar bike share program.

Bike share program at least 2 years away

Bicycles are lined up as the public bike-sharing system launched in Toronto last May 3. Pat Hewitt/CP

Calgary has taken another step towards joining the ranks of other cities with a bike share program.

A council committee supported the development of a business plan for how a bike share program could work. 

The committee is calling for a business plan to be done by October, but even if it's approved a bike share program in Calgary is still at least two years away because council agreed to put off any decisions until October 2012.

But some aldermen are warning that the city shouldn't actually put money into it.

The program allows locals and tourists alike to rent specialized two-wheelers from automated bike stations, and when they’re done the bikes are returned.

There's council support for the idea, but even cycling groups say this will have a better chance of succeeding if the city gets more bike lanes downtown first.

"Right now, we think it might be risky without better infrastructure, but we're confident that the infrastructure will be built in centre city," said Simon Chauvette with Bike Calgary. "We're working with administration and we're confident that it will get built."

However, some aldermen who support the idea say the city can only go so far.

Ald. Shane Keating says no public money should go into this because some cities are now back-stopping deficits rung up by under-used bike shares.

"We're experts to some degree at planning," he said. "We can work forward and we can get this off the ground in those aspects and spend some city money doing that but under no circumstances should we start buying bikes, buying stations."

Transit cuts

Late Wednesday afternoon, the committee also recommended cuts to Calgary Transit.

That means the city could cut 83 full-time jobs in transit's business plan and budget over the next three years, with 18 transit jobs this year, 33 next year and the remaining 32 in 2014.

There was also talk of transit cutting 37,000 hours from its service and no new routes to new communities, except in the southwest community of Silverado.

This comes as all city services have been asked to reduce spending.